Dedication and community celebration set for Memorial Day

by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Thomas Grooms, a sophomore at Southridge High School (middle), digs a hole for a red rose to be planted in the roundabout on Southwest Barrows Road. The roundabout  serves as a memorial for Army Pfc. Andrew J. Keller, who was killed in Afghanistan on Aug. 15, 2012. Volunteers and family members are preparing the roundabout as part of Grooms' Eagle Scout project in time for a Memorial Day dedication.A permanent memorial is taking shape in Southwest Beaverton to remember a beloved Tigard soldier killed in action in Afghanistan last August.

A cadre of Boy Scouts from Troop 871 under the leadership of Thomas Grooms, who is working toward his Eagle Scout honor, didn’t let Saturday’s rain showers prevent them from planting flowers and shrubs around the newly installed flag pole at the Pfc. Andrew J. Keller Memorial Circle.

The transformed roundabout island at Southwest Barrows and Roshak roads will be dedicated on Memorial Day with a special program honoring the life and service of Andrew Keller, a 2008 Southridge High School graduate. It will also pay tribute to the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces who, like Andrew, made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country.

The community is invited to take park in the ceremony that begins at 1 p.m. in the Barrows Road roundabout between Southwest Scholls Ferry Road and Night Heron Lane, near Bull Mountain and just down the road from the Kellers’ home.

Watching the memorial circle take shape over the past three weeks has meant a great deal to the Keller family.

“It is amazing to see people in our community continue to step up and make this happen,” said Jeff Keller, Andrew’s father who has worked side by side with volunteers. “The Andrew J. Keller Memorial Circle went from a dream nine months ago to a reality. It’s overwhelming — it just really is.

“When I got back from coaching a game on Saturday afternoon and saw all the planting done, it brought tears to my eyes.”by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Laurie Fiebich, whose son Gery played football with Andrew J. Keller at Southridge High School, and Mike McLaughlin, whose daughter Laurie provided landscaping plans for the roundabout, plant a red rose bush in the circle.

Coming together

As news of Andrew’s death rocked his hometown on Aug. 15, 2012, Troop 871 scouts encircled the roundabout with 22 American Flags that have continued to grace the circle along with a photo of the 22-year-old soldier, mementos and candles.

Inspired by Wayne Sackley, his former scoutmaster, Grooms said the flags in the roundabout got him thinking about creating a more permanent memorial to Andrew that would work well as a leadership project on his path to becoming an Eagle Scout

The 15-year-old Southridge High School sophomore worked on the project with Brett Roesch, who serves with the Oregon Army National Honor Guard, in collaboration with several community members, businesses and organizations, including Ed Bartholemy of Bartholemy Construction, Mark Harman with Harman Construction, Brent Fitch of SFA Design Group, retired Sgt. Clarence Standridge and landscape architect Audrey McGlaughlin. He also testified in March before the Beaverton City Council to gain approval for the project and design plans that will also include a plaque and memorial bench.

“It feels like it is finally all coming together,” Grooms said. “It’s been really cool putting all the pieces together.

“The whole experience has been really rewarding. I hope the community will remember Andrew and respect his service. I think this memorial reminds us of what people have to go through to get our freedoms in America.”

While Grooms never had the opportunity to meet Andrew Keller, he is inspired by his leadership and selfless acts of courage for others.

“I’m proud to be able to do this in his memory,” Grooms TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Thomas Grooms, a sophomore at Southridge High School, left, hands out flyers for his team to pass out to neighbors who live along Southwest Barrows Road near the roundabout to inform them the road will be closed off for a Memorial Day dedication of the Andrew J. Keller Memorial Circle. Grooms' took on transforming the roundabout into a memorial as his  Eagle Scout project.

Amazing tribute

During Monday’s dedication ceremony, Grooms will speak along with Beaverton Mayor Denny Doyle and Jeff Keller.

Andrew Schlueter will play the bagpipes. Olivia Geller, a 2009 Southridge High School graduate who went to school with Andrew Keller and his fiance Marissa Jones, is traveling from Los Angeles to sing “Amazing Grace” and the “Star Spangled Banner.” Boy Scout Troop 871 will present the the American Flag to the Oregon Army National Honor Guard, followed by a military rifle team salute.

“It is going to be an amazing tribute,” said Jeff Keller. “While it is in memory of my son, it honors all those men and women who have gone before and will go after Andrew.”

Scouts distributed 700 flyers to neighbors, inviting them to the ceremony and informing them of street closures.

The public is encouraged to arrive before 12:30 p.m. as Beaverton police will close access to Barrows Road at Scholls Ferry Road, Barrows at Merganser Road, and Roshak Road and Dewberry TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Andrew Keller's brother Derek and their father Jeff talk before digging a hole for the next plant in the Andrew J. Keller Memorial Circle on Southwest Barrow Road.

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